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USDA Invites You to Reimagine the National School Meals Program Application

What do, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and you have in common?  The opportunity to spur innovation and impact the future of digital design in government and beyond! USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) recently launched the E.A.T. School Lunch UX Challenge exit disclaimer icon, an online hackathon that asks designers and software engineers to redesign — no, reimagine! — the application for the free and reduced-price school meal programs that help feed millions of school children every day. By improving the form’s user experience (UX), you can help reduce error and ensure that school children from low-income households have access to the meals they need to learn and grow.

You might be asking, “Why is a form so important? Millions of households apply for free or reduced-price school meals each year. Traditionally, they do this by submitting a paper application to their school. Unfortunately, manual completion and processing of these applications often results in errors, which could lead to eligible children being denied benefits.

USDA recently redesigned its prototype paper application with the help of the Office of Personnel Management’s Innovation Lab to make it more user-centric, and now we’re ready to take the next step in transforming the application. But an electronic application – with behavioral prompts, interactive UX, edit-check features, and more – is a beast of a different nature. That’s why we want to tap into the expertise and creativity of designers and coders at large. By gathering ideas from the UX and software maker communities, we hope to develop an electronic application prototype that will provide a better user experience for program applicants and school administrators alike.

We invite you to submit trailblazing UX designs with features that will encourage complete and accurate self-reporting while reducing applicant burden, and we’re offering $50,000 in prizes for the judges’ top picks. They’ll be looking for attractive and interactive UX, intuitive question flow logic, and data-capture features. Submissions must also meet the user testing and feedback requirement, so designers and coders can gather initial data on their UX to better inform their designs. You have until March 1 to #ReformTheForm.

So step up to the challenge: This is your opportunity to make a mark on your field and impact a program that touches the lives of millions of children nationwide! You can discover more about the challenge and register at exit disclaimer icon.


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we hope to develop an electronic application prototype that will provide a better user experience for program applicants and school administrators alike.


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